He attended Punahou School where he wrote the school"s football song in his junior year and the school song in his senior year. He graduated from Cornell University in 1916, where he studied electrical and mechanical engineering and was a member of the Cornell University Glee Club.
Despite lacking formal training as a composer, he wrote many songs as a student there, including "When Twilight Falls on Blue Cayuga". In 1927, he wrote his first hit song, "Haole Hula". Another well-known song of his was "Punahou" (1966).
His exploits during World War I involved flying combat missions in France.
After being shot down and taken as a prisoner of war by the Germans, Anderson conceived of a daring and ultimately successful escape. This was later turned into a movie.
Although he had a very active business career, he turned his love of songwriting into a very successful avocation. While Anderson never studied theory or harmony and played a piano mostly by ear, many of his over 100 island songs have become standards.
He usually composed away from an instrument, although he sometimes used a piano or ukulele to work out a melody.
In 1939, as a result of a chance remark, Anderson was inspired to write his most popular song, "Lovely Hula Hands". After watching a hula dancer at a party, he heard someone say, "aren"t her hands lovely?" After it was performed by Harry Owens and his band on a Honolulu radio station, it became an instant hit. lieutenant has been recorded by dozens of artists, including Bing Crosby and Alfred Apaka.
Board of directors, past president Honolulu Symphony. Board directors Leahi Hospital First lieutenant United States Army Air Force, 1917-1919. Member American Society Refrigeration Engineers, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Downtown Improvement Association, others M C.
Married Margaret Leith Center, November 14, 1919. Children: Robert Alexander, David Leith, Allen Willis, Pamela Susan.